Home Page  |  All Dates Times and Places 


Two shows celebrating the great story teller's enduring fame




Diana Heinlein and David Houston 
In Dramatized Readings in the Style of Radio Drama 
From the timeless stories of O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
Accompanied by the jaunty ragtime of Scott Joplin

O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina, September 11, 1862. His schooling ended when he was 15, but his aunt, who had a private school, challenged him to become a storyteller. He worked in his uncle's drugstore for five years and then spent two years at a sheep ranch in Texas, to toughen him up, where he learned the fascinating ways of cowboys and desperados. In Austin, where he worked first as a draftsman then as a bank teller, he married a woman who soon died of tuberculosis. While a bank teller, discrepancies  were uncovered, and Porter was accused and convicted of theft (biographers believe he was probably innocent). During his three-plus years in prison, he wrote and sold 10 stories. Less than eight years later, he was the most widely read storyteller in America. In 14 published collections, he gave us more than 400 universally appealing stories before he died at age 47 June 5, 1910.


Since coming to life in O. Henry's imagination, the Cisco Kid has surfaced in six movies and a six-season TV series. O. Henry always gets credit for the stories, but the character isn't quite the white-hatted hero Duncan Reynaldo brought into our living-rooms in the 1950s. The original here reveals a scarier Kid.  

This tale of a gentleman safe-cracker is another influential O. Henry story. It became a successful
Broadway play in 1910 called Alias Jimmy Valentine, and then a string of movies and remakes from 1912 to 1958,.It's witty and surprising and romantic.   

One of the most famous and beloved O. Henry stories, this is about struggling artists in pre-World-War-I Greenwich Village and of a simple and unforgettable act of compassion. First published in book form in
The Trimmed Lamp
in 1910.


Played by Charles Lawton in the 1952 film O. Henry's Full House, this friendly bum named Soapy calls his bench in Madison Square home and thinks he has the problems of survival solved, until winter comes
along and he has time to think . . . and time to listen.

The wandering unlucky prospector they've dubbed Cherokee in the mining town he founded becomes an unlikely Santa Claus with an unlikely problem and a sleigh full of toys, with a present for himself that
he never sees coming.

One of the best best-known short stories in the English-speaking world, this tale of a loving couple making a go of it in lean times in New York is unforgettable. Christmas is a day away, and only drastic inventiveness can allow Della and Jim to surprise each other with even modest gifts. But somehow they manage.


David Houston

(516) 293-2638 / DH@davidhouston.net 
700 Fulton Street, M-1, Farmingdale, NY 11735

$300 fee (each) includes two actors, reading stands, music/effects CD player,
and travel (Long Island and Queens; inquire for other locales); facility is asked to provide an
8 x 12 performance area and amplification if the space is large

Performances run about an hour

Scroll Down, or Jump with these Links

Biographies: Diana Heinlein and David Houston

Scheduled Performances

Photos for Publicity

Music of Scott Joplin


References, Reviews, Comments



Diana Heinlein

Reviewing a production of The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, NEWSDAY said, "Diana Heinlein is solid and hilarious at the center of the angst-ridden comedy; watching her wallow in comic pathos in the Long Island premiere of Charles Busch's lively surprisingly complex comedy is a delight."  Diana has acted myriad leading and featured roles in other Simon classics including Mrs. Banks in Barefoot in the Park, Kate in both Broadway Bound and Brighton Beach Memoirs,  Cookie in one production of Rumors and Claire in another, and Florence in the female version of The Odd Couple.  She stars in a touring production of Houston's The Ghost of Dorothy Parker and plays five different celebrities of the 1940s in his A Rodgers and Hart Audition. Other memorable portrayals include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, and Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa.  

David Houston

David has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Major Bouvier in Grey Gardens, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Senex in A Funny Thing, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz in Cabaret and Horace in The Little Foxes.  He is a published and produced writer of fiction and non-fiction.  His original plays—including Let's Do It!, The Last Dance, The Ghost of Dorothy Parker, Murder and Madness and Poe, A Rodgers and Hart Audition, and Abe Lincoln in the 21st Century—have been seen at a number of Long Island theatres, schools and libraries. His Joan Crawford biography Jazz Baby (St. Martin's Press) was optioned for movie production. Other performance readings "in the style of radio drama" include Steinbeck's Travels With Charlie, the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, the trial from To Kill a Mockingbird and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.

Scheduled Performances

Tuesday, December 4, 2018, 1:30 p.m.: O.HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Glen Cove Senior Center

Friday, December 29, 2017, 1:00 p.m.: O.HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Douglaston/Little Neck Community Library

Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 2:00 p.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Bethpage Public Library

Thursday, December 10, 2015, 2:00 p.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Garden City Public Library

Friday, December 11, 2015, 12:15 p.m.: O. HENRY'S HUNDRED YEARS — Port Washington Public Library

Friday, December 18, 2015, 12:30 p.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Elmont Public Library
Wednesday, December 17, 2011, 11:00 a.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Shelter Rock Public Library

Thursday, January 7, 2010, 6:30 pm: O. HENRY'S HUNDRED YEARS — John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor

Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 2:00 p.m.:  O. HENRY'S HUNDRED YEARS — Jericho Public Library

Friday, June 4, 2010, noon: O. HENRY'S HUNDRED YEARS — Port Washington Public Library

Wednesday, December 1, noon: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton

Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 7:00 p.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT — Hicksville Public Library
Monday, December 20,
2010, 7:00 p.m.: O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT —  Manhasset Public Library

Photos for Publicity
(Most are available in higher resolution upon request, via e-mail or disk.)



                        O. HENRY AT ABOUT AGE 20                                                            IN LATER YEARS                                                                         

"The Cisco Kid had killed six men in more or less fair scrimmages, had murdered twice as many (mostly Mexicans),
and had winged a larger number whom he modestly forbore to count. Therefore a woman loved him."

The Music of Scott Joplin

Scott Joplin's "ragtime" took the world by storm from the publication of his "Maple Leaf Rag" in 1899 and prompted a "pop" frenzy not equaled until the rock invasion of the 1950s. Joplin provided orchestrations of his piano pieces for "singing, dancing, marching, and listening" in time for the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, for which he composed "The Cascades" to honor the Fair's spectacular fountains, lagoons and waterfalls. These wonderful Joplin orchestrations were, for all practical purposes, lost until 1973, when Marvin Hamlish's adaptations of Joplin for the movie The Sting, caused an instant revival of interest in all things ragtime. Joplin's own orchestrations for eleven instruments, in a collection nicknamed "The Red Back Book," were recorded in 1973 by The New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble, on Angel Records. The success of this recording led to others with orchestrations either by Joplin himself or by those working in Joplin's style. Our sound track is comprised of seldom-heard orchestrated versions of Joplin's popular piano rags.   


  • Time to Write by Trueman E. O'Quinn and Jenny Lind Porter; Eakin Press, Austin, Texas, 1986

  • O. Henry Biography by C. Alphonso Smith; Doubleday Page & Company, Garden City, New York, 1916 

  • 41 Stories By O. Henry Introduction by Burton Raffel, Afterward by Laura Furman; New American Library,
    New York, NY, 1984, 2007

  • The Amazing Genius of O. Henry, Critical and Biographical Comment, by Arthur W. Page,
    Nicholas Fachel Lindsay, et al., Fredonia Books, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1919, 2001

  • O. Henry: A Biography of William Sydney Porter by David Stuart; Scarborough House, Chelsea, MI, 1990

  • Collected Stories of O. Henry: 236 stories, illustrated, Paul J. Horowitz, ed.; Avenel Books, New York, NY, 1986

  • The Complete Works of O. Henry, Forward by Harry Hansen, Doubleday & Company, Garden City, NY, 1953   

Reviews and Comments about 
Readings in the Style of Radio Drama

O. HENRY'S CHRISTMAS GIFT (Diana Heinlein and David Houston)

Barbara Minerd, Program Coordinator, Friends of the Garden City Public Library: "Thank you for today's excellent performance -- perfect for the holiday and just the right length. Forty-five patrons were absorbed and delighted." Penny Wright, Programs and Publicity, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "David Houston and Diana Heinlein put us all in the Christmas spirit with their delightful readings of O. Henry's stories."

WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR by Doris Kearns Goodwin (David as Narrator, Diana as the Voice of the Book)

Penny Wright, Programs and Publicity, Rogers Memorial Library, Southampton: "David Houston and company have produced one high quality show after another, and 'Wait Till Next Year' is no exception. Speaking for the Rogers Memorial Library, I'm delighted that we won't have to wait till next year to have them back!" Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library Washington Public Library "A David Houston production is always entertainingly educational in the most professional presentation." Nadine Connors, Cultural Program Specialist, Hewlett-Woodmere Public Library: Very good audience response, excellent performance; "I can't think of something that could have been done better." Lee Gorray, Librarian, Elmont Public Library: "This brilliant dual performance surpasses many Broadway plays. Rarely have I spent such an enjoyable afternoon."


TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee (David as men, Diana as Scout and women)

Lori Abbatepaolo, Librarian, Middle Country Public Library: "The performers were excellent, and the adaptation and staging provided a powerful experience of Harper Lee's book. It was filled with emotion and the audience seemed completely caught up in the performance." Jean Scanlon, Program Director, Freeport Memorial Library: "The performers take you back to the 1930's South. The variations in voice make you feel as though all the litigants and the children are on stage. The reading was wonderful." Bonnie Russell, Program Director, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor: "Excellent" in all categories, including Audience Response, Literary Content, and Performance. 


FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury (Three actors)

Lorraine Paesano, Adult Services Librarian, Middle Country Public Library at Centereach: "As always, a polished professional performance.  Being joined by Matt Stashin and Melanie Lipton added to the overall impact.  Listening to the selected pieces made me think of how scary it would be if people's beliefs and freedoms were to be challenged and mandated by others.  Thanks for a great reading!"  Deborah Dellis-Quinn, Program Director, Manhasset Library "FAHRENHEIT 451 was excellent – not only for our adult audience, but would be valuable for high-school students.  The pace was quick, keeping the audience involved in the characters and plot throughout the program.  The message of Ray Bradbury's novel was powerfully portrayed by the cast, and respectfully scripted." Jessica Ley, Program Coordinator, Port Washington Public Library: "I've come to expect excellence from a David Houston production, and I've never been disappointed.  FAHRENHEIT 451 was outstanding."

Copyright © 2009, David Houston